Annual Service Day Set for Thursday, April 25


Aeva Ver Boort, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

On April 25, half the students of Notre Dame Academy will be serving on many job sites to help our community.

NDA Serves, which developed from a fundraising walk-a-thon in the first decade of the school, is now a day when students work for about three hours and then are released for the remainder of the day.  It is counted as a school day too.

“When I came here 23 years ago, we did a six-mile walk as a school.  Students had to collect pledges and the walk was a fundraiser for the school,” said English teacher Carolyn Brown.  “Then, after we’d reorganized Student Government, our president, Mr. Michael Gross, asked us to experiment with sending 150 students out into the community to serve instead of walk.”

“The Outreach Branch took volunteers, and it was so successful and well-received by the community that the next year everyone in the school went out and served, but students still  had to collect at least $65 in pledges. A few years later we dropped the idea of collecting pledges and saw the day as a true day of service,” explained Brown.

“What a task it was! I remember Spanish teacher Tracie Van Gheem-Rottier spending hours scheduling and contacting sites. Over the years the scheduling has been taken over by the administrative staff, and now Student Government is not really in charge of organizing the event,” added Brown.

A real variety of tasks will be accomplished, including both indoor and outdoor work. Indoors, there is cleaning, organizing, painting, tutoring, office work, helping in classrooms and working on school projects.

Outdoor projects include raking, planting, cleaning up trash and all kinds of general yard work, depending on the site. One of the sites requires preparing gardens and working in stables.

Some of the most popular service sites are former grade schools, Bay Beach, the Wildlife Sanctuary, the Great Pillow Fight and St. John’s Homeless Shelter.

“NDA Serves is something that takes months of planning and a lot of organization. There is an abundance of sites requesting students to volunteer. I have found that the most challenging is to try and coordinate the students and find enough chaperones. Every staff and faculty member must participate, but even then we do not have enough volunteers and must look to the NDA Community for help. We have 43 sites this year,” said Mrs. Jessica Sidon, assistant to the principal who coordinated student assignments and sites.

This year the freshmen and sophomores are not participating in NDA Serves.  The freshmen will tour St. Norbert College, and the sophomores are testing. So this year the juniors and seniors will be the only students who will be serving.  

“I am disappointed that the whole school is not serving, but I know it is hard to find job sites for 800 people,” said Brown. “NDA Serves helps to enhance our image in the community.  People are often judgmental about our school, but I am convinced that the kids here are terrific. When we make service a priority, we are living the values of Christ.”

NDA Serves is a time during the year that many students look forward to.  It is a good way to make a difference in the world, which is a very important message in our school.